Nautilus sorts all file and folder icons into a grid pattern. If you would like something more chaotic, whereby icons stay exactly where you drop them, click View ^ Arrange items ^ Manually. Each folder can have its own setting in this regard. To make Nautilus default to manual arrangement with new folders it creates, start gconf-editor and navigate to /apps/nautilus/icon_view and put a check alongside default_use_manual_layout. To stop desktop icons being arranged to a grid, just right-click a blank spot on the desktop and uncheck Keep Aligned.
For other Nautilus hints and hacks, see Tip 72, on page 129; Tip 85, on page 143; Tip 165, on page 203; Tip 144, on page 187; Tip 261, on page 301; Tip 272, on page 312; and Tip 295, on page 343.
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